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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ten hours of driving and the petrified forest

Like every August, kids go back to school, flu-vaccine season starts, a fiscal year draws to a close, and my work goes CRAZY (many years, you can also throw a hurricane or hurricane threat in there to increase the insanity). I can't even explain how much I have on my plate this month, but last week it included a last-minute trip to Cleveland, Mississippi. I was asked to participate in a town-hall style meeting addressing the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Mississippi delta region.
I was behind this guy for like, 19 miles before I could pass him. Long drive in farming country!

Unfortunately, since it was last-minute, I had to do the trip in one day, and go back to work in the morning. So I left the house at 5:45 am, drove 5 hours to a more-northern area of Mississippi than I've ever been (surprise - it was 10 degrees cooler than New Orleans!), and made it to my meeting with minutes to spare. The meeting was good - the area needs a lot of information, education, and planning, but that's what I'm here to help with! But as soon as it was over, I had to turn around and head right back. I wasn't too happy to drive another 5 hours, but luckily I was able to take a short detour and explore the Mississippi petrified forest! I saw the sign on the highway and turned aside. Why not explore? I'd probably never be back in the area again.

I paid the fee for the short nature walk (throwing on my spare flip flops that I always keep in my car), and it was great fun. There are petrified logs - most very large - all over the place! It was a nice break from driving, and so remote that I couldn't hear a single sound out on the trail. "Nature" in the city (even the small city) is always accompanied by sounds of cars driving by or people yelling, but not here. It was a relaxing change from the clamor of the meeting I'd just left.

The rolling, sandy soil of the badlands

Sitting on a large petrified trunk

Parts of the trail were paved and fenced, 

The area is prone to flooding and erosion

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After my walk, I hit the road again, making it back by about 8:45: a long day! I'm so glad Friday was followed by a holiday weekend so I can recover some sleep!


  1. I've been to Northern Mississippi (can you use "northern" legally to describe something in the south?) a few times, but didn't know about the Petrified Forest. That's cool.

  2. Very cool! Two of my girls are from "northern Mississippi" and I have done lots of HIV/AIDS training since that is what i used to do at my job. I HATE DRIVING. :)

  3. Wow, that is a lot of driving for one day! I am glad you were able to get out and stretch your legs a bit in a really cool area!